The Chase Is On At Upcoming Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay

Brian Bielmann

Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay
Stop No. 5 of 11 on the 2008 ASP World Tour
Supertubes, Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
July 10–20, 2008

COOLANGATTA, Australia (Thursday, June 26, 2008) – With the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay fast approaching, the attention of 44 of the ASP’s Top 45 surfers is focused on stopping one man – eight-time ASP World Champion and current World No. 1 Kelly Slater (USA).

Slater has dominated the 2008 ASP season, clinching three of four events held thus far. The 2008 victory he didn’t secure went to an event wildcard and the ratings points associated with that win went unclaimed by a tour surfer.

Slater heads into the Billabong Pro an event favorite having won the event three times – in 1996, 2003 and 2005. He finished runner-up to Taj Burrow (AUS) in Jeffreys Bay last year and secured a 3rd place result there in 2006.

“J-Bay has been one of my best events,” Slater said. “I’ve had three wins out there, but it’s obviously a good event for Taj, a good event for Parko [Joel Parkinson], a good event for Andy [Irons] and it suits Bede [Durbidge] really well.”

Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Bede Durbidge (AUS) are ranked 2nd and 3rd behind Slater while Taj Burrow (AUS) and Andy Irons (HAW) sit 5th and 8th, respectively. Parkinson, who has finished runner-up to the ASP World Title winner twice in his seven years on tour, knows the task is a daunting one.

“Kelly is, once again, in great form and he is always hard to beat,” Parkinson said. “With four events down, every event is critical as the pack try to make up ground on the leader. The chasing pack has to keep finding another level in their surfing to reach the bar that constantly gets raised.”

Parkinson won his first-ever ASP World Tour event in Jeffreys Bay as a wildcard in 1999. Despite several quarter and semifinal appearances at J-Bay in the decade since his maiden victory, Parkinson has been unable to repeat at Supertubes and hasn’t won an event since 2006.

“Without a doubt, J-Bay is one of my favorite waves on tour,” Parkinson said. “I have had some good results there but haven’t won since 1999. I am looking forward to surfing there again – it is a special place and I am going to be giving it my all this year.”

Durbidge, who is enjoying his first season as a solid ASP World Title contender, will be looking to back up a strong start to the year with a win in South Africa.

“I have had some solid results in Jeffreys, a 5th and a 9th,” Durbidge said. “I really enjoy the wave and it suits my style so I’m looking to put in a good showing there this year. We are all playing catch up now, so a win at J-Bay would be perfect for me. I have had some good results this year, but I really want a win to make up some ground.”

Durbidge knows that Slater needs to slip up and he needs to excel if he wants to close the gap.

“Kelly is definitely making it tough for us title contenders this year, he has had pretty much a dream start,” Durbidge said. “It will be hard, but there are still seven events left. I will have to get on a roll and make no mistakes – hopefully he will make them.”

The Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay is the fifth event of 11 on the ASP World Tour. The last leg of the tour took place in the South Pacific in May and early June and the ASP Top 45 will have had close to a month to prepare for the wintertime waters of Jeffreys Bay.

The Billabong Pro will be webcast LIVE on ASPWorldTour.com and BillabongPro.com when competition runs. The event waiting period stretches from July 10-20, 2008.

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